Had it been fully human, it would have been confused upon awakening, but it wasn't fully human. As such, it was immediately aware of a large amount of information, some of which didn't make any sense, but it wasn't worried. It knew what "worry" meant. It just didn't feel that particular emotion, at present. Maybe it would, some day, but not at present. Somehow it knew that, given time, this or that piece of information would settle into its appropriate place in relationship to all the other bits of knowledge floating around in its...
It knew what "brain" meant too, but was aware it didn't have one. It didn't worry about that either.
Awareness announced that it wasn't "real" in the sense that it had no body. It wasn't a creature, per se. It was more of a concept that had an almost, but not quite, physical reality. It realized it was "hungry," but not in the human sense of the concept. The fact that it didn't know what it was hungry for didn't bother it. It knew, somehow, that sustenance would be forthcoming. It had some kind of task to complete, and when that was achieved, it sensed it wouldn't be hungry any more.
It reflected, for a while, on the fact that it had been human at one time, or at least nearly so. It didn't remember that phase of its life, or what it had felt like, but it knew that would return as well, in time. "Return from where?" it asked itself. "Where have I been?" It drifted, knowing it was invisible to human eyes. "Why am I here now?" it wondered. "What am I?"
A concept formed in its consciousness. Ghost. It decided it was a ghost. But whose ghost? It decided that didn't matter. It was content to be, simply, "Ghost."
It took an interest in its immediate surroundings. It had no "eyes" but knew it was perceiving the reality around it as if it did. That was yet another thing it didn't fret about. None of that mattered. All that mattered was that it had a task to pursue. It realized it didn't know what that task was.
If it had had shoulders, they might have shrugged.
That, too, would take care of itself.
And yet it could move around. It did so, exploring its immediate environment. Realization came to it that it could only move within certain bounds. It concentrated on the thing nearby. The knowledge that it was a construct of steel, plastic, copper and a few other materials didn't announce its purpose. There was the smell of oil about it, and the memory of motion in its components. It was a machine of some sort. The ghost wondered idly why there seemed to be a feeling of incompleteness about the thing.
That was interesting only in as much as it became clear that it was tied to this machine in some way. It could move away from the machine, but when it did so it felt wrong, somehow. The urge to return to the device grew stronger and stronger, the farther away the ghost floated.
In the end it hovered over the machine ... just waiting.
Linda Tomlinson's awakening, that morning, was as similar as daylight seems during the day. She got up and did all the same things she did every day to get ready to go to work. A quick shower was followed by a few hurried strokes of the brush through her hair. A dab of lipstick, then her regular bowl of oatmeal with just a splash of milk preceded the pulling on of clothes before she snatched up her purse and left her apartment.
Linda didn't think about the fact that she was unhappily single as she navigated the roads to Robard Manufacturing, where she operated a lathe for exactly 390 minutes per day. She was a member of the union, so the normal 540 minutes of the work day was strictly regulated. The first hour and the hour after lunch were the only unbroken sixty minute work periods. The other six work hours consisted of a fifteen minute break, followed by forty-five minutes of actual work. Lunch was an hour, of course.
Linda walked from her car to the plant entrance, where she plucked her ID badge off of the board and moved on to the locker where her apron and face shield were stored. Then she went to her lathe. It was three minutes until eight, by the clock on the wall. She stood patiently, waiting for the hand of the clock to click three more times so she could swipe her ID badge through the reader on her lathe and start work.
It was during those three minutes, while she had nothing else to think about, that she reflected on the fact that she had no man in her life ... no social life at all, really.
Three minutes seems like such a short time, but thoughts move at the speed of light and light can travel a long, long way in three minutes. Linda had plenty of time to blame the fact that she was lonely on her almost crippling shyness. She knew she wasn't bad looking. Men had approached her in the past. She knew that Randy, who worked at the lathe immediately to her left, would come by within a minute or two, smile, and say "Hey, beautiful." It was his standard greeting. His smile was always open. There was clearly invitation in his tone of voice and posture.
She knew she would say exactly the same thing she'd always said to Randy. He always got a simple, one syllable response: "Hi."
She felt emotion swelling inside of her, threatening to burst out. At one time she'd thought she was having panic attacks, but a course of therapy had identified it as simple frustration that she was so shy she almost couldn't even talk to the therapist. While the therapy sessions hadn't helped with the shyness, at least she understood now what was happening inside her. She liked Randy. He was a nice guy. He was also single. She wanted so much to be able to respond to his overtures, and it was tremendously frustrating that she couldn't.
Her eyes darted toward movement, perceived in her peripheral vision. It was Randy, walking toward her. Her heart lurched and, for maybe the hundredth time, she tried to look him in the eyes.
Ghost observed the woman coming toward "his" machine. He suddenly felt male for some reason. There had been other humans passing nearby, but none of them had seemed interesting. This woman changed that, somehow. Ghost watched as she approached, noticing all the things that made her female. There was the hour glass shape, under the apron she wore. Ghost didn't puzzle about why it could see through that garment. It simply tried to look deeper. That turned out to be as easy as simply trying to do so and suddenly it was as if the woman had nothing on at all. Her breasts were rounded, without a hint of sag, and capped by strikingly pink nipples that were flat at the moment. Her ribs below those breasts could almost be seen, and the curve of their ending led naturally to a flat abdomen, flanked by swelling hips. Her pubic thatch was full and dark, made darker by the pale white of her thighs.
Idly the ghost tried to go even deeper, and saw the striations of red and white muscle beneath the skin, flanked by thin slabs of dull yellow fat. Organs lay beneath the layers of flesh, and starkly white bones supported the entire mass.
The ghost's consciousness found the spine, an intricate web of outrageously shaped bones connected by milky pads, surrounding a thick magenta cord. Following the cord led to the skull, wherein lay the convoluted mass of gray and white tissue that seemed to glow somehow.
Ghost realized it was drifting toward the woman. It didn't resist. It wondered what the brain might feel like, wrapped around its consciousness. It sank into the rubbery flesh easily, to find itself surrounded by frantic activity as electrical pulses flashed all around.
Finally! Something interesting – no - fascinating to observe.
Ghost spent a few nanoseconds latched onto one of those electrical impulses and was taken for a wild ride through the woman's body, leaving it with a giddy feeling. It released, just floating in the woman's mind, examining her thoughts. For some reason the ghost thought of a library, containing millions of books. Each thought/book had its own unique color. Any of them could be opened in an instant, and read in even less time.
One thought burned brightly in the woman's brain. It had a brilliant hue that was pure white, stained by streaks of neon pink. Longing radiated from that thought.
Ghost felt hunger again. It felt the pull of that brilliant, longing surge of neurons.
Like a tired and sore bather, entering the soothing water of a hot tub, the ghost sank into the bright ball of longing.
Randy's eyes were on Linda as he approached. "She sure is easy on the eyes," he thought, feeling the muscles in his face shift into a smile. He knew she was shy. It was obvious. He knew she didn't find him repulsive or anything like that. That's why he never gave up.
He watched her eyes dart this way and that, and the tinge of pink creep into her cheeks. In his fantasies she was happy to see him ... waiting for him to notice her ... glad of that notice. He knew he was no Romeo. He was the kind of guy women wanted to be friends with, rather than having any kind of romantic involvement. He was cursed by being a "nice guy."
"Hey, beautiful," he said as he got almost even with her.
"Hey, handsome," she replied.
Linda felt a flash of heat as the words somehow leaked out of her mouth. She couldn't believe she'd said that. Shock held her immobile for a few seconds as Randy continued by her.
Then he stopped, as if he was frozen too. Her eyes saw him turning toward her and she realized that she couldn't move her eyes away, as she would normally do.
.... There is more of this story ...